Listen Live On Our Live Stream or Tune To Our Frequencies: 88.3 FM | 88.9 FM | 94.7 FM | 95.1 FM | 98.1 FM | 98.5 FM

Mentally Ill man freed after 9 years in Prison

A mentally ill man has been in prison for 9 years without a trial. A Hattieville resident, 33 year old, Luke McFadzean suffers from moderate mental disability and Schizophrenia. In February 2010 McFadzean had an altercation with someone when an off duty police officer the process McFazdzean hit the officer on the head with a two by four.  He was charged with attempted murder and use of deadly means of harm with intent to cause grievous harm, but since the case dragged on while McFadzean languished in prison close to a decade it caught the attention of the Human Rights Commission of Belize. Kevin Arthurs, the attorney for the Commission says he was able to secure McFazdean’s release on Monday.

Kevin Arthurs Attorney for Luke Mcfadzean: “Luke Mcfadzean is a 33 year old resident of Hattieville Village and he is diagnosed with moderate mental retardation and schizophrenia. What happened to Luke was that back in February of 2010 he was having a difference of opinion with another gentleman when an off duty Policeman intervened to try to stop the difference of opinion. Somehow in that altercation it is alleged that Mr. Mcfadzean hit the Police officer over the head with a 2 by 4. Mr. Mcfadzen as you know was charged with two offenses at the time: he was charged with Attempted Murder and Use of Deadly Means of Harm With Intent To Cause Grievous Harm. From 2010 the records show that he has been detained at the prison. In 2013 he was assessed by a psychiatrist who told the court, listen Mr. Mcfadzen doesn’t have the capabilities of being able to go through a court process because he does not have the mental capability. In this case the doctors and psychiatrist not only said that Mr. Mcfadzen was unfit to plea but they also told the court and the prosecutors from back then that his condition will not improve. Despite this Mr. Mcfadzen had been in jail with his mental health issues since 2010 to Monday. What is troubling is even if Mr. Macfadzen was found guilty of his offense and the judge had comments that he made just as Colin Young made certain comments in terms of the quality of evidence against him in relation to attempted murder. Even if the allegations were proven in court, the maximum sentence using the sentencing guidelines for persons who are charged for deadly means of harm in a situation like this the range is between two years to a maximum of eight years is what you see. Mr. Mcfadzen has effectively served one year more that he would have served even if he would have been convicted and he has not spent on day in a trail. I got involved in the case because and interesting party from the court called and asked that as human rights interest that I become involved in the case. There are certain elements from the courts side who are very concerned about how long the case has been taking and their human rights instinct had kicked in and said this is just simply not right. Let us get some process done for this gentleman that is ill. I took up the matter as a human rights interest and went to court at the time hoping to apply for what you call a competency hearing. A competency hearing is a procedure that is available to the court to determine legally so even if you have a medical assessment of someone to get a jury to certify that the person cannot stand trial. I was very happy that whilst making those applications that the court itself felt as though the prosecution ought to do a little bit more than just go through the motions of having this matter dealt with through a process of certifying him and the court pressed a prosecution to take some immediate action. Mr. Mcfadzean as I understand it is back with his family in Hattieville. Surely his mental issues as the professionals and the psychiatrists have said will not be going away but the family now has a new opportunity to assist him to as much as possible to have an equal life to anybody else who has a sort of disability.”

Kevin Arthurs initially applied to the court for a competency hearing. The competency hearing is a legal procedure that legally certifies that a person cannot stand trial and that is independent from a medical assessment. Now that McFadzean is free Arthurs had advised the family to test the system and file a constitutional suit in regards to what had happened to their loved one over the past decade

Kevin Arthurs Attorney for Luke Mcfadzean: “It appears that dealing with persons with mental health disorders is something that we use as an afterthought. We don’t really put it in the way that we deal with most health issues in this country and it is unfortunate because when you have that level or priority or that absence of priority these people suffer. I think one of the ways to get the attention of the authorities and the society on a whole is actually to test the system and so one of the things that I have advised the family to do is to bring a constitutional suite or claim into what has happened to Mr. Mcfadzean in this situation and I think that at the very least it will start a conversation and at the very least give some attention to an issue that we really need to pay attention to. If you look at the numbers world wide and even local of the persons who are actually suffering from or affected by mental illness whether that be depression on the lower end of schizophrenia on the higher end it is a large number of people and so we need to address the situation so that when these persons become a threat to law you would understand these people as ill. We do not tolerate unlawful behavior but we have to put it in a context of dealing with them in a way that is more healthy for society.”

If you would like to reach Human rights commission the office is located at the corner of Hudson and Gabourel Lane.